The Delaware River Bridge was shut down indefinitely over the weekend after a large fracture was discovered in the bridge connecting the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes.
The fracture on a steel truss below the bridge deck on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge was discovered during a routine check as part of a painting operation. Steel plates were installed to temporarily reconnect the fracture and stabilize the 1.5-mile bridge—which is located in Bucks County on Interstate 276 and accommodates 42,000 vehicles per day.
As engineers assess how the damage will impact the entire bridge, a sample from the fractured truss was sent to a forensic lab to determine the cause of the crack. A high definition video survey is also being used to monitor the bridge.
The bridge is jointly owned and maintained by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA).
“Due to the significant fracture, stresses have been redistributed to other parts of the bridge,” PTC Chief Engineer Brad Heigel said in a statement. “We regret the inconvenience of closing the bridge, however, it is necessary to properly evaluate the bridge’s current condition and determine next steps to ensure the safety to our customers.”
The damage assessment is expected to take a few weeks, at which point officials said they will be better able to determine how long the permanent repair will take.
“This was a unique and complete fracture which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions,” PTC Chairman Sean Logan said in a statement. “We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement. However, out of an abundance of caution and to protect traveler safety, the bridge must remain closed until a full-scale analysis and repair plan have been completed.”